|Jim & I hanging with the Foxes|
Leading up to this race I had done several long runs: 18 once, and 20 twice. However, all of my runs center around my house. I will stop by the house 2 to 3 times on a long run to refill water bottles, go to the restroom, and when it was super hot - change clothes. While I was certainly still getting the miles in, I was getting little "mini breaks" by stopping by the house, so I was excited to get in 20 solid miles in a race format. Plus bonus - supported run, medal and t-shirt!
Race weekend arrived and the forecast called for PERFECTION. After months and months of running in the sweltering heat and humidity and long runs ending with temps in the 90s, race morning weather was supposed to be in the mid 40s at the start and mid 60s at the finish with no wind and beautiful sunny skies. The forecast held true, and we had just about the most perfect weather you could ask for on race day. While it did get a tad warm toward the end, you couldn't complain at all. Sure, would it be great for mid 50s the entire race?....yes, but it was still beautiful!
Jim and I were up early and headed to the race. I decided on capris and a t-shirt with arm warmers. It was chilly at about 42 or 43 degrees in the morning. We hadn't seen temps that low since late Spring. I had brought a throw away long sleeve shirt, so I put that on. I was perfectly comfortable and even though I had also brought some throw away gloves I didn't need them. We got to the race early because we both wanted to get in some warm up miles (I was hoping to get in a total of 22 miles for the day). But of course, with the several porta potty stops prior to the race I didn't have time to do much of a warm-up but I did manage to run 1 mile before the race started.
|Sun coming up over the local businesses along the Fox River|
|Some Ducks and Flowers by the Fox River|
The race/training run finally started and I felt terrific! It was so nice and cool and it was just beautiful. St Charles is a quaint little city full of charm. It was easy to get caught up in everything and I found myself easily flying through my first mile at around an 11:30 pace. While this isn't super fast or anything, all of my previous long runs I've averaged around a 13:20 to 13:30 pace. I knew I was going to have to rein it in, or it was going to make for a long day later. I hit mile 2, and again I was around an 11:30. That's when I knew I had to slow down. This wasn't a half marathon, this was 20 miles, if I didn't slow down now I'd be hurting at the end.
|One of the many bridges and views of the Fox River|
|Some of the windmill art in Batavia|
My only issue with the race at all was that the course kind of weaved in and out multiple times and you were also with different sets of racers at different times. While it was well marked and there were generally people there to guide you, I found myself constantly second guessing and wondering if I was on the right route. They had colored arrows that matched your bib color along the course as well - blue for the marathon, orange for the 20, and green for the half. At one point I looked down and only saw one blue arrow...crap had I done something wrong? This was at about mile 7.5. I saw marathoners coming, but no one had an orange bib (keep in mind there were only 330 twenty milers compared to 1500 or so marathoners). I asked someone if I had missed the turn and he said Yes, he thought I had...crap. I started running backwards when I saw a few more orange bibs heading my way. I asked, "are we going the right way" and pointed at the blue arrow, but they said we were on the right path so I kept going. Thank goodness!
|More beauty along the trail|
|Another beautiful River view|
I rounded the final corner and could hear the crowds cheering. Just as I was making the turn to the final stretch, a man on the sidelines just started screaming "Go Michael, Go Michael"! It was pretty cool. I don't know if he was doing that for everyone (probably) but for just a second I felt special and it gave me that final push to the end.
|Japanese Garden along the trail|
I know I ran this a little too fast....I mean while it was a "race" it was meant to be a training run. The weather was cooler and it was also much, much flatter than the runs I usually do. I'm a little more sore afterwards than I'd like to be, but it was such a perfect day it was hard to slow down the pace when it just felt so good. I just hope I didn't do anything stupid that would impact my "real' race day here in a few weeks.
|Jim & I post race|
After the race we showered, ate some lunch and headed home for the long, miserable car ride. I have to say it was truly the worst ride ever. After such a wonderful day it really put a damper on things. Nothing is worse than running 21 miles, and then hopping in a car for 8+ hours. We had been up since around 4 am...and got home around midnight. It was rough. When we finally crawled in bed, I could hardly straighten my legs out they were so tight. We had stopped to stretch often on the way home, but it was still far from ideal recovery.
Oh well, we had fun and it was totally worth it!
Have you ever done a 20 Mile Run Before? Or done a race as a training run, that you maybe ran a little too fast? Or jumped in the car for an 8 hour drive after a long run?